Warning: Spoiler Alert
Life’s far from perfect, just when you’ve won a battle you realize that you’ve still got to fight another three, before you can finally take a breath and relax. The characters on the AMC Network Original Series”Halt And Catch Fire,” constantly battle, whether fighting the demons within themselves, or those around them. Even when they find happiness and contentment, it never lasts for long. They don’t believe they deserve to have it all, so they find a way to sabotage relationships and then become saddened when they examine the bridges they napalmed.
The second season finale concluded with the characters embarking on a new adventure and what they hoped to be a fresh start, however things weren’t rosy for all as the episode and season ended. An unexpected move by one of the characters, didn’t conclude with the desired results. And although we shouldn’t have felt surprised, one of the characters reverted back to form, taking advantage of a helpful gesture by a friend, for their own financial gain.
Our first image is that of Joe MacMillan driving through Dallas in an old pick-up truck. Then we quickly move over to Western-Group Industries, where Jesse Evans’ informs Jacob Wheeler of all the damage caused by Sinorous. Wheeler barks out to just give him the numbers and Evans tells him the company’s stock’s lost 8% and the company stands to lose millions. Jacob asks what about Joe and Evans says the board believes he’s responsible for the damage, but don’t feel it’s prudent to press criminal charges against him. Wheeler realizes what that means and says to Evans that they’ll need a scapegoat.
MacMillan walks into a lawyer’s conference room and the woman who shows him in, says that they’ll be right with him. Joe says he’d like to talk to his wife before the proceedings and the woman says as soon as she arrives she’ll bring her into the conference room. He sees some magazines on a countertop and the one on top’s Business Trade and their cover story says Wheeler’s Out At Western-Group.
Over at Mutiny, they’re playing around with a new videogame they created, where the user can create their character to look any way the player chooses. One of the Coder-Monkeys, whose now in charge of accounting asks Cameron if he can take over Tom Rendon’s old desk, as it has two drawers. We see that Yo-Yo’s back at Mutiny and he tells Donna and Cameron that he just signed up two more markets for Mutiny.
Back at the attorney’s office, the lawyer walks in with the dissolution of marriage papers for Joe to sign. MacMillan says he hoped to speak to his wife first, but the lawyer says Sara was already there earlier that morning. With her signature already on the paper he adds his. He gets into his truck and starts pushing the accelerator to the floor, then closes his eyes and lifts his hands off the wheel. The sound of a car horn brings him back and he slows down and starts driving again.
Cameron’s exploding because their new network’s hiking their rates. Donna says that’s the way the game’s played when you’re leasing space on a third-party network. Clark says she can do the dance and try to get the new network to lower the increase, but Cameron says she doesn’t want to do the dance, she wants to change the music. Donna tells Cameron she has to pick Gordon up from his group-therapy session.
Gordon’s attending a stress management session and we can see by the expression on his face, that this is the last place he wants to be. The counselor asks Joe to perform an exercise in front of the group and although he seems to open up to the counselor for a second, he then shuts right down and shows his contempt. He doesn’t realize that Donna’s watched the whole incident from outside the door.
Donna’s in the unfamiliar role of serving herb two daughters breakfast and she’s lost in her own kitchen, as Gordon’s reorganized everything since he’s become Mr. Mom. Joni, the oldest daughter says her waffle’s frozen in the middle and Donna blows off the complaint, so Joni picks up the waffle and flings it across the kitchen floor. Donna’s shocked and asks her daughter what’s going on and Joni asks why can’t Gordon serve them breakfast, as she sucks at this.
Donna takes a breath and says we all need to work together, your father got upset and the little one asks like he did in California? Joni tells her younger sister to shut-up and Donna then asks Joni what happened in California? Her daughter tells her that Gordon and his brother Henry got into a scream-fest and they had to spend a night in a motel. Donna asks what the fight was about and Joni runs to her room.
Joe meets with three executives from Stokes Capital and tries to pitch them a concept of a nationwide network, that could connect a user to any city in the nation. The spokesman for the trio Timothy Bondham, interrupts MacMillan at that point and asks if he was the guy that brought networking to Western-Group? Joe responds that he came up with the concept to lease their mainframe to third-party companies and Bondham asks him why he destroyed it? MacMillan says he didn’t destroy it, but Bondham says despite what the word out on the street is, he has good friends at Western-Group and they all say Joe’s responsible.
He then says they’re not going to give him a dime, they just took the meeting out of morbid curiosity. Bondham says he did some digging on MacMillan and brings up Joe torching the Cardiff Electric truck filled with 100 computers. He says he’s blown away, he’s never met a legitimate psychopath before. Joe gets up and walks out of the meeting as the three guys smile like fifth-graders.
Cameron comes up to Donna at Mutiny and says we should buy this, it’s an ad for IBM 30/30 mainframe, the machine’s ten-years-old and is old-school even for 1985. It would cost Mutiny every bit of liquid capital they had, plus their projected earnings for the next year. Also it’s located in Daly City, California and might be too big or costly to ship to Texas. Donna says it’s a reach even for them and Cameron says okay, but we can tell she’s not giving up on this yet.
Gordon goes into his garage cranks up his boom-box and opens the garage door and starts checking out these model trains he has stored on a shelf. Then Joe walks in, he says he rang the doorbell then he heard the music. He says he just stopped by to give Gordon a small present, it’s a piece from the IBM PC that they first rebuilt. He says he kept it as a Talisman and now he wants to give it to Gordon. It’s as if he’s planning to kill himself. Clark says he heard about what happened at Western-Group and he offers to help fix things. Joe says to him that Gordon looks great, Clark asks what about Sara and Joe says it was good seeing him and drives off.
That evening, things go from bad to worse rapidly at the Clark house. Donna comes home from Mutiny and Gordon’s in bed reading the article in Business Trade Magazine about Western-Group. Gordon says he feels bad for Joe and asks Donna if she has any misgivings of how Cameron destroyed Joe’s life? Things get nasty very quickly, as Donna tells Gordon that she was in on the plan to sabotage Western-Group. (Although in reality, I don’t believe she knew beforehand.)
This escalates the argument to dangerous levels as Gordon asks his wife what’s she’s become. She then asks him the same question and brings up the fact that he doesn’t take his therapy seriously. He asks her if she’s spying on him and she then asks why he didn’t tell her about the shouting-match between Henry and himself and Gordon spits out cause he had an affair. He says when he got sick, he looked for his marriage and couldn’t find it. He says she never was there and that’s why he held off telling her for two-months that he was sick. He then says perhaps their marriage is broken and they’re the only ones who don’t know it. Donna sees Joni outside their bedroom door, but Joni runs back in her room and locks the door.
Cameron attempts to make herself a cup of coffee, but the coffeemaker’s broken. She then heads into the living room and sees Donna sitting at her desk. Cameron remarks that Donna’s there early and Donna unloads her burden.
I don’t if Gordon and I love each other anymore. I don’t know if we can fix it. And I don’t know if I really want to fix it.
Howe grabs a chair and pulls it next to Donna, then she says she doesn’t know anything about marriage. She says what Gordon and her have, or don’t have is up to them to figure out. However, she says she believes that life gives us signs that lead us in the right direction. If she never worked for Cardiff, then Mutiny wouldn’t exist. If not for Gordon Clark the two of them would still be strangers. She then says sometimes you need a fresh start, how about we move to California?
She then says if Mutiny can’t bring the mainframe to Texas, then Mutiny should move to California. She says it’s a new life and a fresh start, something they both could use. Donna’s face’s a mixture of excitement and dread, she’s tempted by the project, but she’s not sure she’s ready to give up her marriage.
We move to a restaurant, the setting for a business luncheon held by the company that John Bosworth and his son James work for. Boz hold’s court among the senior management team, cracking them up with a bunch of his stories. The company’s CEO tells John he’s done great work so far, which is the reason that he’s been invited to this luncheon. He’s only middle-management right now, but he values Bosworth’s input. He then tells a joke to the group, but we can see that Boz suddenly feels out of place.
Gordon heads over to Joe’s apartment and he sees his former co-worker’s living a Spartan existence, a box-spring and mattress on the floor in the corner and a 15 inch TV set with a VCR on top of it. Gordon then tells Joe he feels terrible about what happened at Western-Group and MacMillan says it’s not Gordon’s fault. Clark says it’s not Joe’s fault either. He then says that MacMillan makes it tough for people to realize, but he’s actually a good man. He then pulls out a floppy-disc labeled Tabula Rosa and says that it’s the fix for the damage that Sinorous caused Western-Group.
Gordon says perhaps he can use it to win Sara back, then says what they had was something special and you have to hold onto that. Then he says he’s not sure it lasts even if you do hold on. He then hugs Joe, who hugs him back and Gordon leaves the apartment, while MacMillan’s fighting back the tears.
Donna’s standing in the backyard of Mutiny and she’s also fighting back tears, when Gordon enters Mutiny through the front door and keeps asking is she here. Cameron tries to tell Gordon he needs to leave when Donna hears the commotion and comes back in the house. He asks if Joni’s with her, that her younger sister says she ran away.
The couple head back to their house and Donna calls every friend of Joni’s she can think of. Gordon comes in and says he scoured the entire neighborhood. Donna says their daughter took her backpack, her lunchbox and her sleeping bag, suddenly their younger daughter calls them to the window. They see their camping lantern in the window of their toolshed and realize that Joni’s hiding in there.
When they go to talk to her, Joni says she had to run away as she told a secret and now Gordon and Donna don’t love each other anymore. They both tell her she did nothing wrong and then Joni asks if they’re getting divorced. Donna says Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, but they have some things they need to work out. They tell her to head in the house and that she and her sister should think of what kind of pizza they want.
Donna and Gordon start to talk things over and she says she doesn’t want to be the wife to leave a sick husband, but she’ll do it if she has to. She then says that Gordon’s going to write a check for almost every penny they have to buy a mainframe and she and he are going to repair it together. She then says that they’re moving to California and Cameron’s going to offer him a position at Mutiny and he’s going to accept it so they can work together.
Gordon asks her if that’s extortion and she says it’s an investment. From now on it’s not going to be one of them holding the kite strings, while the other soars, they’ll soar together. Gordon asks if Donna believes moving to California will solve all their problems and she says she hopes so. However she knows that the relationship’s doomed if they stay there.
MacMillan’s shown up again at Stokes Capitol without an appointment and he’s waited three hours when Timothy Bondham emerges from his office and says he just wanted to se how long Joe would wait. Joe has a face of stone and walks past Bondham and enters the office first and puts a floppy-disk into Bondham’s terminal at his desk. It’s got Sinorous on it and it soon infects the terminal and MacMillan tells him this is the same virus that destroyed Western-Group and soon it will infect their entire network.
Bondham says he’s calling security and picks up the phone, but Joe hangs it up and says that’s not the security he wants. He then says to Bondham that the exec doesn’t know what Joe will do next, hence the lack of trust. He says you have to build a wall around your system so you don’t have to rely on trust. He then takes out the first floppy and inserts Tabula Rosa and the virus disappears. Bondham asks him what he did to get rid of the virus and Joe smiles and says this is the vaccine and after what happened to Western-Group, companies are going to want this vaccine.
Pizza arrives at the Clark house when the phone rings and Gordon picks it up and it’s Joe. He’s ecstatic and says create the sickness sell the cure. Gordon says he’s got to go and MacMillan says hear me out, you just came up with this incredible product and we need to partner up and sell it. Clark says they’re moving to California and Joe says we can do this from California. Gordon says he has to start concentrating more on his family and he’s going to work for Mutiny. MacMillan slams down the phone.
A graphic appears that says 30 days later and Cameron goes to Tom Rendon’s house to tell him they’re moving to California and they want him on board. If he wants to do it meet them at DFW Airport that evening for the flight to San Francisco. Tom says that it’s awfully short notice and Cameron says look at it as not to long to over think it.
We’re on the plane as the Coder-Monkeys start boarding, Carl and Bodie are having a discussion and Bodie tells Carl to shut-up. We see the Clark girls sitting together coloring and Gordon and Donna are across the aisle from them. She says their such good girls and Gordon says maybe when we get settled we can have another. Donna smiles and then says she needs to go to the restroom. When she gets inside, she starts crying over the child she aborted a few months before.
Cameron’s looking for Tom but he has yet to show. Suddenly the Coder-Monkeys start cheering as Boz comes on the plane wearing a cowboy hat. He says he never thought he’d say it but time to move to the left coast. The bulkhead door gets closed and Tom never arrived, we see the sadness in Cameron’s eyes.
Waiting for Donna to return from the restroom, Gordon starts thumbing through a computer magazine, when an article nearly takes his breath away. The headline of the article reads “MacMillan Utility Nets Ten Million Backing For ‘Anti-Virus’ Software Venture.” Gordon quietly says son of a, then cuts himself off and puts his head in his hands.
Our final scene’s Joe being shown some prime San Francisco office space. The realtor tells him that he’s have the whole floor which can handle 100 desks. She says because of the view of the Bay there are other bids out there, MacMillan says get the papers and lets sign, he doesn’t care about the price. He stares at the skyline from his window as the realtor goes to get the paperwork.